The Spectator

‘Unity at home and strength abroad’. Britain prepares for WW1 by postponing Irish home rule

The outbreak of war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia in July 1914 forced British politicians to postpone the Amending Bill for Irish home rule. This was momentous because Nationalists and Unionists had been on the verge of civil war (see picture above) over the amendments, which concerned the exclusion of the six counties of Ulster. The Spectator noted, gravely, that a continental war appeared to be unavoidable, so the nation must pull together. ‘Unity at home and strength abroad,’ it demanded. The Spectator also suggested that the ‘national energy is best conserved and best applied by a Liberal Government  supported by a Unionist Opposition’ with Asquith’s Liberal Cabinet supplement by prominent Conservatives such as Lord Lansdowne, Andrew Bonar-Law, Arthur Balfour and Austen Chamberlain, among others. Britain would declare war three days later.

More than 200,000 Irishmen served in Great Britain’s armed forces in world war one. More than 30,000 were killed in action.

The Spectator, The Irish Situation, 1 August 1914, Page 5.

AUSTRIA-HUNGARY’S attack upon Servia has changed the face of the world. Nowhere are the marks of that change to be seen more clearly than in our internal political situation. The Irish problem may be said to have reached the maximum of exasperation on Sunday. In Parliament there was a deadlock, for the Irish Nationalists were determined not to accept the Lords’ amendments, and to refuse that measure of exclusion which alone will satisfy the Ulstermen—the exclusion of, at least, the six counties which make up the homogeneous Protestant Ulster. But worse than this deadlock was the fear that the Ulstermen, excited by the denial of Exclusion in the only form in which they could accept it, would at once have recourse to arms or to some desperate act. To a position so perilous was on Sunday added riot and bloodshed in Dublin.

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